As it was a milestone birthday for me (I’m not telling, don’t be cheeky) recently, I thought I would treat myself to a trip away.
I had the misfortune to be born during half-term, so the flight prices were extortionate.
Airlines like to cry on the news about how tough they are finding it, but they don’t really help themselves. £40 to put hold luggage on a flight. Aye, dead on. I was looking up flights to England, and it was three figures each way. England, for crying out loud.
Want to go away for two nights/three days? Well, tough, we’re going to make our flight times so inconvenient that it’s not worth it.
My first choice was to go to York. I went there for the first time last year but it was only a day trip. Even though I crammed a lot in, there was still more that I wanted to do that I could have made a good use of a two night/three day visit.
Unfortunately, I refer to my point about it costing three figures to go to England. Newcastle (for an onward transfer to York) in this case.
As I wouldn’t be going on my preferred week because of half-term (Just take your children to the local park for crying out loud), I wouldn’t be going the following week due to seeing Paul Heaton (should have been with Jacqui Abbott, but it was just him on his own) in concert so I hate to make it a two week late birthday treat.
Looking at all the options and the prices, the only flight that offered any value was Gatwick. So the choice was now London or Brighton. I plumped for Brighton.
I had previously been to Brighton before, in November 2021 and absolutely enjoyed it. I did want to return, maybe not so quickly, but I wanted to go somewhere for my NUMBER REDACTED birthday.
My reluctance to return so quickly was the reason why I didn’t go back in May 2022 (I chose Edinburgh instead) to try and blag a ticket for the United match there. Had a bit of a lucky escape there.
As it was my NUMBER REDACTED birthday, I decided to Live La Vida Tory by booking Lounge Access at Belfast City Airport.
It wasn’t just a treat, but an act of self interest/preservation.
There isn’t much room for a bit of peace and quiet at Belfast City Airport so that was part of my reasoning.
That’s not really a Covid issue, just a wanting some peace and quiet issue.
It wasn’t bad. Breakfast buffet, tea and biscuits and peace and quiet. It was a nice wee treat.
Curiously, Easyjet seem to be making the most of Belfast having two airports.
My flight would be leaving from Belfast City Airport but my return to Belfast would be to Belfast International Airport, meaning I had to buy two single tickets.
Gatwick Airport isn’t the only airport Easyjet does this from Belfast.
Surely Translink could adapt and sell an Easyjet Special Ticket for people making these journeys instead of making them buy two singles?
I was enjoying myself too much and was too comfortable, and got a bit of a fright when my flight started boarding earlier than expected, so I had to give up my tea and biscuits to board the plane.
Arriving at Gatwick, it is pretty easy to head to Brighton, a short train journey from the airport.
Conveniently for me, my hotel was a one minute walk from Brighton Train Station. The last time I was in Brighton, my hotel was in Regency Square, beside the beach. Thinking ahead to my departure, I didn’t fancy carrying a suitcase up that hill from Brighton Beach to Brighton Train Station. I’m officially old now.
Brighton is a strange paradox. It is a big city, bigger than people think, but it is also compact at the same time so that most things are walkable.
The location was perfect. Close to Brighton Train Station, close to Brighton Beach, close to The Lanes, close to Kemptown.
As it was my NUMBER REDACTED birthday, I decided to do a spot of grifting. Put a message to the hotel when I made my booking that I was travelling to Brighton as part of my NUMBER REDACTED birthday celebrations in the hope of having some sort of extra special treat waiting for me.
Nope. Nothing. Flip sake.
I then headed to explore Brighton, my first spot being The Lanes, a shopping area full of independent stores. I headed to a shop I visited before and loved, Snooper’s Paradise, a Retro/Vintage/Junk store. It is a lot like Empire Exchange in Manchester, but on a bigger scale.
Somehow, I took a detour and ended up exploring more parts of Brighton, ending up in an area called The Old Market.
After exploring The Lanes, I headed to Brighton Beach to try and get some sunset photos. I wasn’t the only one. There was a bit of a crowd developing. Some people were making the most of free deck chairs on Brighton Pier to sit down while observing it.
The observation walk would be from Regency Square to Brighton Pier, the opposite direction from when I went to get sunset photos the last time I was in Brighton.
Regency Square is opposite i360, which I went on the last time I was in Brighton.
Back then, I really enjoyed it, and it is worth visiting if you are in Brighton.
It is one of those things that you probably have to leave it a while between visits.
I was up early-ish on Tuesday morning so I went for a stroll along Brighton Beach.
The Sunrise on Tuesday was a bit dull, so I didn’t bother trying to get some photos of it.
In recent years, when I have travelled somewhere, I have liked to take in a hike or a ramble, and this was no different.
Getting information on anywhere to go in Sussex is a bit difficult. When you look for information to get somewhere, it’s all very vague. As I would be using Public Transport, it was essential that I knew where I would be going.
The other big problem with wanting to go hiking or rambling in Sussex is that a lot of places worth visiting, such as Devil’s Dyke, only have Public Transport operating during the Summer.
I had picked up a few leaflets, and one for Stanmer Park said that it was a short walk from Falmer Train Station. So that’s where I would be spending Tuesday morning.
Part of the gateway to South Downs National Park, it was easy to find from Falmer Train Station.
I decided to head on the Woodland Trail. Walk for an hour and see where it takes me.
It was very peaceful and relaxing. Not secluded though. I got a phone call about renewing my Home Insurance while I was there.
It was a very lovely walk and I got some nice photos. About an hour did it, and it was time to head back to Falmer Train Station.
Falmer. I know what you’re thinking. That rings a bell.
That’s because Falmer is the home of The Amex, home of Brighton and Hove Albion.
I didn’t have any football in mind when I booked this trip, didn’t even look at the fixture list.
Annoyingly, it was the FA Cup 5th Round on the week I was there.
Naturally, I celebrated Brighton’s late win over Liverpool in the 4th Round, although I would have done that even if I wasn’t going to Brighton during the week of the FA Cup 5th Round.
By now, I was perked up by the prospect of taking in a football match during my trip. Everything had fallen perfectly into place. Brighton would be playing on the week I would be in Brighton. Now I just needed the FA Cup draw to fall perfectly for me.
Nope. They were drawn away from home. Flip sake.
Nevermind, there are other teams in Sussex. Might have a look at the football fixtures.
Whitehawk, the other team in Brighton – Away. Crawley Town, near to Brighton – Away. Eastbourne Borough, also near to Brighton. Guess what? Away.
This will be a trip with no football. There was plenty of other things that could occupy my time.
One possibility was a day trip to Eastbourne, as Falmer was on the route. I decided against it as there was still more to explore in Brighton.
Heading back to Brighton, I decided to explore the parts of The Lanes I missed out on Monday.
The two days had flown by. Suddenly, it was Wednesday morning. I had to get ready to check out.
With my flight home not being until 8.25pm, there would still be a while for me to spend in Brighton.
I headed to Brighton Beach to get some Sunrise photos. I was too comfy in my bed. Even though I was up early, not early enough to witness the Sunrise in full, only catching the end of it.
After getting fed and checked out, I decided to mop up Brighton, strolling along Western Street to see what it had to offer, ending up in Hove.
From there, I made my way back into Brighton, to check out Kemptown.
And that was it, my visit to Brighton was over. My feet were very sore, the sign of a good trip.
The good thing about Brighton is that it is easy to navigate around and familiarise yourself with.
That is also a problem. It’s not the sort of place you would visit regularly, it can get a bit samey.
Despite that, it was a fantastic trip and I really recommend Brighton to visit. Might leave it a while to be back, but I will definitely be back.
I’m already looking for somewhere else to visit now.
I’ve nothing planned on the first weekend of April due to Linfield being out of the Irish Cup. Flip sake. Might as well make the most of it though.
Ryanair have announced new routes from Belfast. Budapest and Bergamo interest me.
I’ve had a look, the times for Budapest are crap.
Bergamo has decent times if you travel Tuesday to Thursday. I might park that for later in the year and wait to see if Atalanta have a Wednesday night game.
Of course, i’m planning on making a return to Edinburgh in August.
Planning trips is almost as exciting as going on trips. Almost.